I'm crazy for cashews, truly, madly, deeply. I have a savory tooth of note and in a parallel universe would be eating nachos and guacamole all day long. In reality, cashews satiate my palate with a brilliant nutritionally packed crunch that keeps me going back for more. I've even taken to baking them on a very low heat for 15 minutes slathered in a mix of coconut oil and fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano. When they pop out the oven, I sprinkle some cayenne and black pepper lightly, toss them round a bit, and then dig in.
But back to business. Did you know that cashews grow on trees? And that not only do they grow on trees, but they emerge from the bottom of a gloriously sweet and technicolor Brazilian fruit called the "cashew apple"? When the cashew fruit and nut are ripe, they are harvested by hand, which accounts for one of the big reasons they are so expensive. Think about it: Have you ever seen a cashew sold in a shell? Nope, neither have I!
According to Nuts: A Global History, this is because the shell is toxic and causes skin irritations. Though originating in Brazil, the cashew plant traveled the world with Portuguese colonizers, reaching Western Africa, Southeast Asia, and India. Today, the largest cashew producers are Nigeria and India, where they are made into everything from oil to butter while the cashew apple fruit is packed into jams and even alcohol.
Cashews are full of the monounsaturated heart-healthy fats found in olive oil, which increase cardiovascular and heart health—although cashews actually have a lower fat content than most other nuts. They're also a great source of minerals like copper and manganese, so important for bone, nerve, and thyroid health.
Another way I like to eat them is on a piece of rye bread with sliced banana and medjool dates—nut heaven. Fyi, it tastes and smells like cake mix, and I'm currently writing and eating it simultaneously like the multitasker of note that I am.
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